Name: The Wife of Bath - 'is not beautiful, but forceful and energetic'
Hand made stoneware plate by Francesca Kaye
Wax resist black glaze, oxide blue painted figure.
Size: 31cm x 37 cm (very large platter)
Delft Women, is a new and exclusive collection for The Shop Floor Project’s Ceramic Department by London-based ceramicist, Francesca Kaye.
Kaye’s unique, hand-made plates and platters, with wax resist borders and inky oxide blue figures, evoke a multitude of references from; 17th century Delft tiles to Hungarian ceramics and patterned textiles.
The latter influence is no surprise as the artist began her career in weaving and textiles, but promptly changed discipline after studying ceramics at Goldsmith’s College in the 1990’s.
Each figure in the new collection, decked out in 17th century dress and painted in blue oxide, seems to time travel from the centre of the plate, tentatively stepping out into an abstract border of matisse-like flowers or bold stripes, some painted with splashes of colour at the edges, some scalloped.
The plates, press-moulded in a biscuit-colour stoneware, are slightly wonky and obviously, beautifully made by a human hand. This tactile quality is continued in the way Francesca paints the expressions on the faces of the figures, the intricate costumes and elaborate hats.
In her early career Francesca set up studio in the famous Cockpit Arts workshops in London, where she created collections that sold through stores such as Liberty of London and showcased through exhibitions with the Crafts Council in the UK and America.
For the past five years Francesca has worked from her purpose-built studio in the bottom of her garden. Prolific and intuitive, she creates work in her bold yet delicate style, which is completely unique, referencing an array of influences. Asked for just a few of them, Francesca lists “the ceramic department of the Victoria & Albert Museum, Hungarian folk art, children’s stickers, Matisse, old tins and, at the moment, my Cinderella Ladybird book”.
For this new collection of Delft Women plates and platters, Francesca paints borders of flowers and stripes with a wax resist, enjoying the spontaneity of it. “You can’t over think wax resist, I like the rough and ready quality of it as well as the sharp lines it produces when contrasted with the black glaze.”
The glaze is applied and the piece is placed in the kiln for a low firing which burns away the wax. After this Francesca paints the Delft women with blue oxide which appears lilac before the final firing.
“I use blue oxide for its magical quality, giving the drawing an extra dimension. I love the boldness and yet subtlety of it. Each Delft Woman is different, I don’t know what she’s going to be like or what dress she’s going to have on, I start with the nose and face and the rest appears."
After this stage they go back in the kiln to a high temperature and “that’s when the Magic happens”.